Open Letter to the President of the European Commission regarding Poland’s “Muzzle Law”

The current procrastination is akin to dereliction of duty: Waiting to bring infringement actions and to fail to simultaneously seek interim measures when the rule of law in a Member State is so obviously and blatantly deteriorating on an industrial scale only means that the Commission faces a far more serious and intractable problem to deal with later.

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Muzzling Associations of Judges

Art 88 a of Poland’s so-called “muzzle law” law prescribes that judges must disclose their membership in associations, their functions performed in non-profit foundations and membership in parties before they became judges. The provision applies to memberships in all kinds of associations, including associations of judges. In this form, the provision violates the European Convention of Human Rights as well as the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

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For Norway it’s Official: The Rule of Law is No More in Poland

The so-called “muzzle law”, adopted by the Polish parliament on January 23, was the last straw. On Thursday 27 February, the board of the Norwegian Court Administration decided to withdraw from its planned cooperation with Poland under the justice programme of the EEA and Norway Grants, due to concerns over the Polish justice reforms.

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You Can’t Forbid Judges to Think

The Polish judiciary is split apart. One part adheres to the ruling of the Court of Justice of the EU of 19th November 2019, another does not. This legal chaos and catastrophe was caused by the recent judicial reforms and it deprives citizens of the most important right – to be certain what their legal situation in court is.

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A Trial that Wasn’t, an Impact that Was

The handling of the Sadurski cases offers a pars pro toto picture of the dynamics, twists and (sub)plots in a slide to authoritarianism under our very eyes. It speaks for many other similar cases that do not benefit from equally intense coverage. It shows that what is at play in these politically motivated trials is a mixture of obfuscation, an attempt at a long-game strategy facilitated by unlimited resources (paid by the Polish taxpayer) and an expectation that international (scholarly and other) attention spans will break – and support will dwindle accordingly.

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